Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me ...

Photo by Shorpy
K and 3rd Street NW circa 1900
K and 3rd Street NW circa 1900

One of the greatest crimes against our country's many architectural achievements occurred during the Eisenhower administration of the 1950's when a determined group of transportation zealots decided to build highways through our cities.

We put them everywhere: in front of lakes, vistas, oceans,we tore down buildings, uprooted families and displaced and then drove apart neighborhoods; all in a cold war effort to modernize transportation. 

Here (shown above) we visit K and 3rd Street NW in and around the turn of the century. We know this from the gas light on the corner. The same model lamp that was used throughout Washington after 1890 and can still be found in Montrose Park, Georgetown.

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By 1971, she was dead and gone. The urban highway isn't just a concrete surface by which vehicles traverse; it is a shovel that is the brutal arbitrator that can't weigh consequences or care. With huge requirements to maintain, it offers nothing in support.

It truly is a gash in the landscape that distracts people away from beauty, while ensuring that wherever it passes through, no one stops, no one stays and no one is allowed to care. 

After all, who really lives by a highway? In the American Dream no one plans to but like illness and worse, it can be thrust upon us.

This is the 3rd Street expressway, a part of Interstate 395. "The Highway: When Used As A Shovel" is a feature on The Ruined Capitol and a book in development which documents America's architectural suicide by concrete road transport.


0 Comments For This Article

Ghosts of DC

Ugh. Complete lack of foresight for historic preservation. I suspect in the 1950s, people felt the same way about Victorian architecture that we do about the crappy architecture of the 50s and 60s. It's just a tragedy to think of all the things we have lost in this city, all in the name of progress.

James Canning

Great piece.